Every year, the month of May has been the National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM).

NMAM began in 1999 when the late Senator John McCain introduced legislation designating the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month. His legislation received bipartisan support and both the Senate and the House of Representatives adopted resolutions calling for the country to recognize and honor all of our service members during the month.

With many of our holidays becoming nothing more than three-day weekends for the majority of Americans, McCain’s vision was that this would bring a renewed focus on their original purpose. NMAM is designed to remind us all of the extreme sacrifice given by our military members. It is a time for members of the military, past, and present, to participate in local events that bring more public attention to the Forces.

So, as we roll into May, (can you believe it is May already?), we celebrate and honor both the current and former members of the United States Armed Forces, especially those who died protecting the freedoms we enjoy. It is a good reminder to U.S. citizens of the important role the military has played in protecting our freedoms and serving all of us.

There are several military-themed events and celebrations every NMAM.

Loyalty Day:

Friday, May 1, 2020.

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Loyalty Day is the day for people to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States and recognize the heritage of American freedom. It began on May 1, 1930, when about 10,000 Veterans of Foreign War members rallied at New York’s Union Square to promote patriotism. It was officially adopted in 1950.

Victory in Europe Day, VE Day:

Friday, May 8, 2020.

On May 8, 1945, the Germans in Europe unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. VE day marks the end of the war in Europe. Although World War II was not over, as the war against Japan was still raging, VE’s significance in ending the Nazi regime is tremendous.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day:

Friday, May 8, 2020. This day always falls on the Friday before Mother’s Day.

This day honors military spouses with ceremonies that call attention to the important role military families play in supporting our men and women in uniform. President Reagan issued a proclamation for the day in 1984 and Congress adopted it in 1999.

Armed Forces Week/Armed Forces Day:

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Saturday, May 16, 2020. It is celebrated the third Saturday in May every year.

Armed Forces Week is held in the days leading up to Armed Forces Day. Armed Forces Day celebrates the sacrifices of all military members. It honors all of the U.S. Military branches; the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, and the new Space Force. 

Memorial Day:

Monday, May 25, 2020. Perhaps the paramount celebration of the month. Memorial Day is a Federal holiday that is always observed on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day honors those select veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our country. Nearly all of the schools in the country have ceremonies that honor the dead of our military and their selfless service. Americans are encouraged to pause, wherever they are, at 3:00 pm local time for a minute of silence.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, many of the public events may be severely curtailed or canceled. However, that does not mean that we can do nothing. So, if citizens are looking for ways to give back to our military community this month, they can do some of the following:

Send a Care Package to Troops Overseas:

We have tens of thousands of troops overseas. Many of them are in harm’s way serving in combat zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, as well as different parts of Africa and Asia. 

Operation Gratitude is a 501(c) (3) non-profit. Since 2003 it has sent over 2.6 million care packages to military members around the world. 

Assist a Disabled Veteran:

With the ongoing pandemic, volunteering for service at a VA hospital or Soldier’s Home will probably be out of the question for many. However, we all know veterans in our communities. Many of them are older and have trouble getting around. We can reach out and do some grocery shopping, some basic yard work, or pharmacy pickups for them. Sometimes just the simple act of reaching out to our older veterans goes a long way.

Aid a Spouse of a Deployed Military Member:

Between balancing kids and all of the daily chores needed to keep a household afloat being a spouse of a deployed military member is a tough enough job by itself. With the current coronavirus situation and the families quarantined, that level of difficulty has increased.

Reaching to spouses of military members and offering your help with some daily tasks can really assist them.